Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is common experience for most infants and toddlers, although the extent to which they are affected varies. If your child develops separation anxiety there are things that parents can do to make it easier.

  • Try to stick to a schedule, consistency helps children feel secure. If the schedule is going to change discuss it ahead of time with your child in an age appropriate way.
  • Start by leaving for short periods of time so that your child learns that although mom/dad may leave they will return.
  • Try to have a consistent babysitter so that your child is familiar with the person you plan to leave him/her with.
  • Build in time for your baby to become comfortable with new caregivers. Spend time with your child while the caregiver is there so that your child becomes comfortable with this new person before you try to leave your child alone in their care.
  • Always say goodbye to your child, resist the urge to sneak out when your child is not looking. If your child thinks that you suddenly just disappeared, it will make him/her very upset and give him/her cause for future anxiety about separation.
  • Try to create a short goodbye ritual such as giving the child a kiss, hug and then wave before turning around and leaving – doing the same thing each time when you leave makes the process more predicable which will ease anxiety. Extended goodbyes only make children more anxious and upset.
  • Keep calm while saying goodbye, if the parent is calm then the child is more likely to be also. If you are upset or get teary when leaving your child do not let your child see this, you will both get through this. Your child will most likely be fine a few minutes after you are out of sight.